Jonathan Richman gently rocks Bowery Ballroom

Jonathan Richman lit up the stage at the Bowery Ballroom, though didn’t play his classic hit “Roadrunner.” Photo by Bob Krasner

BY BOB KRASNER | Jonathan Richman may be the most stubborn man in the entertainment biz today. He does not own a cell phone, answers fan mail by hand and doesn’t wear a guitar strap.

Accompanied only by Tommy Larkins on congas, Richman recently kept the Bowery Ballroom crowd — at the second of two sold-out shows — entranced with gently rocking songs of love, suffering, springtime and Vermeer, sung not just in English but also French, Spanish and Italian.

Jonathan Richman would frequently step away from the mic and just hold a pose, like a character in a Beckett play.

His persona veers from deadly serious to stand-up comedian, but even the jokes convey his extremely earnest worldview. He tends to steer clear of his own oldies, only occasionally performing crowd favorites like “Roadrunner,” and this was not one of those occasions. Which is not to say that anyone went home disappointed. It’s hard to leave his show without a smile on your face, no matter what he does.

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